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baby lamb

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
first weekend of May a few of us are going to roast a lamb out on a farm 45 minutes from town,....there's a spit, or friends have a china box we can bum....any suggestions or thoughts about the differences. Nicko, the potatoes under your lamb have gotta be one of the best parts.

one of my french chef friends wants a lamb that's milk fed, not eaten grass yet....after asking the farmer (Sam) how big that lamb would be, she said approx 20-25# which is not big at all. I've no clue how much meat we could expect off one that size. If it's not that significant of a taste change wouldn't it be better to go with a least a 35+ #?
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #2 of 14
uhhhhh, ummmm. Don't "baby lamb" rank up their with "jumbo shrimp?" ;)
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 14
Yeah, IMHO , "lamb" MEANS milk fed, no grazing, just like VEAL!
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
at what point does an animal upgrade to sheep or cow?

what is a lamb/sheep that has gone from a teat to grain/grass? is it size or age.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #5 of 14
IMHO, based on my Ag Engineering training, once "weaned", lamb/veal/kid ceases to exist.

Now, that being said, if they are kept on milk or "milk replacer", they still qualify as lamb/veal/kid.

Oh, BTW, lamb/veal/kid refers to sheep/cattle/goats ;), regardless of gender. At least in my considered opinion.

Again, IMHO, lamb/veal/kid are NOT allowed to graze, period, age has very little to do with the classification!

But who am I? I've only stayed at a Holiday Inn Express!

Oh yes, I DO have a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering for California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 1972
Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #6 of 14
LOL! Upgrade! I like the use of that! :D :D
post #7 of 14
These are terms of the trade. Your opinion is interesting to me, but won't have much of an effect on ranchers and butchers.

"Lamb" means a year old or less.

"Spring lamb" means unweaned ("milk-fed,") and FWIW they can be slaughtered into the early summer. I forget where the line is, late June or mid July I think.

"Baby lamb" is milk fed and no older than 8 weeks, IIRC.

I've done a few lambs, here are some impressions.

If Sam's weights are dressed weight, figure a little more than 50% waste to bone, moisture loss etc. You're not going to lose much to fat on the younger lambs -- but a little more to the older. If Sam's weights are live weight figure more about 2/3 to waste. A 25 pound (dressed) lamb will feed about 16, if there's plenty of other food going on. If you're looking to mostly eat saddle (legs and chops), it's big enough for eight. I'd definitely check with Sam on whether the weight means on the hoof or dressed, and what the weight difference is between the two. I'd also check with her and/or another independent source on portion size. I have a slight tendency to overfeed.

Lamb chops from baby lambs are called chuletillas in Spain. Big deal luxury food there.

The best way to cook lamb is over a live fire. "Caja China" don't really do an interesting job. What they do allow for is very humid cooking. Great for Cuban style and Hawaiian pig. Otherwise, big waste of time.

Lamb loves smoke -- heck, it's already got a nice smokiness to it. The preferred fire in the west is red oak burnt down to coals -- and that's my highest recommendation. In your neck of the world, if I couldn't get red oak, I'd look for white oak as a second choice -- than any other fruitwood or pecan. Grape cuttings are awesome, especially mixed with oak. I find hickory brings more association with pork than I'd like, but your guys may want it. Personally, I'd take mesquite over hickory.

The top European wood choices are oak, cherry, citrus and grape -- in no particular order.

If you can't deal with a hardwood fire, at least use hardwood lump charcoal. Friends don't let friends use briquette. Or lighter fluid for that matter.

A spit is very nice. Depending on the size of the pit over which you've got the spit, you probably want a fairly moderate fire.

But California style you want to keep the fire very hot, but get the lamb far away enough away from it so that it's cooked by a mixture of radiant heat and convecting hot air -- and far away from any flare ups. You're looking for a grill temp in the neighborhood of 325F. This is sort of a cross between "open pit" and "California" aka "Santa Maria" style. You could call it either. Out here we have special open pits with adjustable height food grates or coal grates. You've probably seen pictures of big grills with wheels that raise and lower the grates on chain. We control the temp by changing the distance between food and fire.

Regular smokers big enough to handle the food are good as well. It's so easy, it's almost cheating. I hate to mention it.

If you go spit or California AND hardwood, bring along a second pit -- a Weber kettle will do, so you can keep making coals to feed your cooking fire. Also, keep a bowl of water by the fire with a lot of fresh rosemary soaking. Throw some on the fire now and then. Also a few heads of garlic.

Best way to handle lamb open-pit or in the smoker is to butterfly it, stretch it on metal stakes, and wrap the whole thing in chicken wire (makes it easier to turn). You'll only turn it once in the smoker; and more than a few times if you go California style.

If you want great texture and great taste, you've got to go spit or open pit. You know you want that good grill crispness and char. You really, really want that.

BDL
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
There are 19 lambs on her farm this season, her ewes started birthing mid Feb. and one was due last Sat so there's at least 1 month between them.

The guest list includes alot of chefs, there will be food.....the ones coming are totally into rolling up their sleeves, popping a brew/glass of wine and cooking.

One of the things Sam said she would not do is kill them....great....I'm really ok with using a whole critter, it will be a challenge to kill though.

BDL, absolutely we want the crispy bits. Sam asked how many lambs well use.....it may be interesting to have a baby and a larger one.....didn't Gourmet or Saveur have splayed baby 19# goats or lambs a few years ago in a Mexican story?
Bet we could get hickory, for sure grape vines, absolutely rosemary........
Cool thing about having farmers as friends is that they got shtuff on their land.....wood, herbs growing, pits/rotisseries/bbq setups....cool thing about having chefs as friends is that the conversation and food is always great.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 14
I raise sheep. The difference between a suckling lamb and one that's begun to eat grass is usually not that great. In my opinion, it's mostly in the mind of the cook or consumer. Lambs that have achieved about a 90 lb. slaughter weight will suffer about 48% trim loss, babies will suffer even more as they haven't even begun to flesh out. A 25 pound still nursing lamb, you're looking at maybe 10-12 lbs of edible meat, not counting offal. An unconscionable waste of reproductive energy in my opinion, unless the farmer is charging you TWO arms and legs per pound for the meat. Ask for an older lamb, 35-40 pounds. You won't be disappointed if they've been eating good grass. I would happily defy any palate to tell the difference at these young ages and small sizes.
post #10 of 14
If the farmer will not slaughter, who among you knows how? You are what you eat, and a badly slaughtered animal is a sin, plain and simple. Please do yourself and much more importantly the animal a favor and don't try to do it yourself. If you think it will be a "challenge to kill", imaging what a challenge it will be to die at the hands of someone who has never done it before.
BDL is right. Lamb is any sheep less than a year old. Weight and feed has nothing to do with it in the meat industry, in spite of what others want it to be. Slaughter times depend on location and when the animals are bred and when they lamb. The gestation period of sheep and goats is 150 days.
post #11 of 14
Hmmmmph! Try and be a wisea** and see what happens. :cry:

For the record, that's all my comment was. I'm fully aware that, in the U.S. at least, "lamb" has a legal definition, and refers to a sheep that's less than a year old.

"Spring lamb" is also defined legally, based on the calendar, not the specific age of a particular lamb. Given the differences in when ewes bear, and the lateness of the cut-off date, I've always felt "spring lamb" to be more a marketing phrase than anything meaningful.

Those that haven't been weaned (or which are being hand-fed) I always called "milk fed." Didn't have a clue that "baby lamb" was an industry designation, and had not heard the term used before except in petting zoos. .
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 14
I can't wait to see what Nicko has to say, the pics he posted last year were incredible.

In a few weeks time it will be time for us Greeks to start spit roasting our lambs, it's the biggest treat of the year. I've been present at many of these rituals and I've seen some great things. You want to make sure your lamb is seasoned well inside and out. I've seen the cavities stuffed with lemon and herbs which is great. A really cool thing I see is a bunch of herbs (dill, parsley, thyme, mint, rosemary, whatever combo tickles your fancy) tied together and dipped into a marinade of lemon, roasted garlic, s/p. The herbs are used like a brush and periodically brush the lamb on the spit. Lemon and garlic, lemon and garlic, lemon and garlic.... salivating now.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
lolol.....K you are both are just too funny this morning.

Roasted lamb always reminds me of Spring, asparagus, spinach, dillweed, lemons, rhubarb, strawberries, radishes, peas, tiny new potatoes, eggs, eggy bread......


elchivito, it was a rude awakening to hear Sam say that I wouldn't just have a butchered lamb(s) ready to cook......that she would not kill them. We'd have a big salad and dessert if I had to wield that knife, and yes it would be a sin,probably a very big venal sin to slaughter without knowing how. So, it may mean going to a slaughter house. Now the question becomes how long do we want the meat to hang? I'll call the Swiss meats to see what they say.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 14
I feel better now, thanks for letting a processor handle the dirty work. I hang lambs and kids for about a week, that's plenty.
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